When Robert Enslin was hired as co-CEO of UiPath in April of 2022, the chaos of the pandemic was not long in the rearview mirror, a major war in Europe had erupted and people were understanding the reality that massive inflation would drive up the price of just about everything. Over the course of the courtship that brought Enslin to UiPath after a successful stint leading Google Cloud, two things became apparent to him. The automation space itself was not properly defined, making it difficult for customers and prospects to understand. And, more importantly, UiPath didn’t quite know its own strength. Amid global upheaval, there was opportunity.
A Platform, Not a Tool
His research and conversations with people inside and outside UiPath convinced him that the set of capabilities the company had developed or acquired since its launch, integrated and presented the right way, represented a comprehensive enterprise automation platform. While it wasn’t fully formed when he accepted the position, the bones were there, he says, even if the details and the proper way to communicate them to customers and partners were not.
“I spent time with Daniel [Dines, co-CEO of UiPath] before I agreed to take the position and told him, ‘you have a platform here.’ I don’t think he believed me,” Enslin laughed during an interview with Automation Today at UiPath’s recent Forward VI user conference. “I believed there was a real opportunity, even if the end users don’t yet understand the potential.”
While Enslin agrees that the low-code movement and the democratization of technology among business users is here, he felt UiPath’s emphasis on RPA and “a robot for everybody” was drawing focus away from bringing all the company’s capabilities together and marketing it as a true automation platform.
Enslin, who had shepherded and grown Google Cloud through the pandemic and understood how crises in the business environment affected investment in technology, saw he should spend his first six months visiting customers, getting them to understand the potential of the full range of automation capabilities. At the same time, UiPath would have the time to develop the platform he felt could meet those needs and could unveil it when macro events had settled.
“When this happens in the market, budgets get frozen really quickly,” he said. “I think I had decent experience in understanding how to deal with financial impact and how to make certain the company was healthy. We had to initiate a redesign of the platform and then go talk to customers and let them know what was on the way.”
He remembers one meeting in which he laid out what a redesigned platform would look like and what the customer would do if they had access to it.
“I’d ditch the other 10 automation products I have,” the customer replied to him. “I’m dying with all this stuff.”
Enslin notes that UiPath’s engineering team had already begun the process of combining the ingredients that, properly designed, make up a fully-integrated platform—cloud distribution, process mining, integration services, API connections, IDP, etc. So, as that process and communication with customers continued, the team set a date to unveil the platform for investors during UiPath’s annual Forward event in Las Vegas.
“We first showcased the platform at Forward V last year and people couldn’t believe it,” he says.
Enslin understood that this was still the beginning of the journey, not the end. In addition to the platform itself, UiPath made some significant organizational changes including reducing the number of accounts each salesperson was responsible for so they could more intimately understand and build deeper relationships with their customers. That began a period of making more disciplined decisions—tough ones that were focused on driving profitability for the company.
Also, part of communicating the importance of an automation platform was to get organizations to begin thinking about business automation more holistically. To do that, Enslin said UiPath had to move beyond the term RPA, which was merely one tool available to businesses implementing an entire AI-driven enterprise automation strategy.
And shortly after the launch of the platform and the decision to rebrand, the software world shifted.
AI into the Future
The introduction of ChatGPT was a seminal event in the development of artificial intelligence, how it was being used and its public perception. Generative AI had pushed a technology that was advancing quickly anyway into hyperdrive and companies rushed to capitalize on the early hype—sometimes without much of a product ready.
But Enslin and the leadership at UiPath understood they were well positioned to further integrate AI into the platform to make it even easier to use and more powerful. One of the company’s main AI technologies is built around an advanced form of computer vision and the recent acquisition of Re:infer had added deep expertise in natural language processing enabling the platform to mine context from unstructured messages like emails and transform it into actionable data.
Adding generative AI as a way to quickly and easily translate what a user wanted out of the platform into action was the next step, and the notion of specialized AI—AI focused on specific automation tasks, which UiPath already had—married with a generative AI assistant to make the automation process faster and smoother was born.
Less than 18 months after he came on board, Enslin says the company is in position to move forward with a new platform that customers, partners, and investors understand; new branding emphasizing that software automation has moved far beyond RPA; and a powerful new story that puts AI at the center of its platform: specialized AI plus generative AI equals enterprise AI.
“The analysts have communicated to the market that it’s really clear how automation and AI works with UiPath,” Enslin says. “We built all the ultraviolet stuff quite a while back, but we now have a concept in place of how to bring it to customers. UiPath is the business assistant that lets businesspeople actually benefit from automation. Customers truly feel they can transform their businesses.”
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